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Fastball counts and what they mean
Kevin Seitzer explains fastball counts to The Star's Lee Judge.
One to forget
This was a really good game for six innings…unfortunately, they played 10. Kyle Davies did what he set out to do: he threw well, minimized damage by not walking people, kept his team in it and left the game with a lead. After that it was a mess.
Seven walks, three of them leadoff walks (two of them scored), two errors, two wild pitches, two mental mistakes (to be fair, everyone thought Billy Butler was out when he left the bag after being called safe — I’d like to see a replay of how emphatic the umpire’s call was — and Ned Yost said Mike Aviles made the right decision when he threw behind the runner. (I’m unconvinced, but I’ll ask Mike about it next time we talk.)
Um, what else? I think a cat married a dog and Wilson Betemit got out of the way of a pitch that was going to hit him in the eighth inning with the bases loaded in a tie game.
One more time: WILSON BETEMIT GOT OUT OF THE WAY OF A PITCH THAT WAS GOING TO HIT HIM IN THE EIGHTH INNING WITH THE BASES LOADED IN A TIE GAME! Just stand still, take a knock, bring in Soria for the ninth and go home a winner.
TIMEOUT FOR FUNDAMENTALS: The one thing I think I could do at the major league level is get hit by a pitch. I’m not sure I’d survive, but I could sure as heck get hit. Wilson avoided an 81-MPH slider. I would’ve come out of the press box and taken that pitch in the ribs, if someone had given me that option.
Here’s how you get hit by a pitch: first, be old and slow (got both covered). Second, when the pitch comes at you, rotate your front shoulder back towards the catcher. This accomplishes two things: if it turns out to be a breaking pitch and is headed for the zone you’re still in a position to hit. You just rotate back to a good hitting position. (This is why it’s a bad idea to lift your arms on an inside pitch … which you see all the time…it takes you out of a hitting position.)
The second thing rotating your shoulder back towards the catcher does is protecting the front half of your body. If you stand naked in front of a mirror you will quickly realize almost all your favorite parts are attached to the front half of your body. When a right-hander rotates clockwise he presents the thick muscles on the back and legs to the pitch, which protects the face, hands, arms and as the English say, the twig and berries. (I really don’t know if the English say this, but Mike Myers used it on “Saturday Night Live” and it cracked me up.)
Anyway, there are hitters who have perfected this move and are experts at flinging an elbow out or a knee as they rotate, happy to take a knock and a base. Wilson Betemit is not one of them. The big question is not about this game, it’s about the next one. After the game Jason Kendall popped a cold one and said the team just has to forget this and concentrate on the next game. The ability to minimize bad streaks is crucial.
The Royals played their worst game of the year: Can they bounce back and play well tonight?
Someone asked me if I thought I’d ever run out of things to write about. I worried about that when I started doing this, but I’ve always got about three times as many notes as I can use after a ballgame. Take today, for instance: Bob Dutton asked Doug Sisson if catching a fly ball with two hands applies to the major leagues and Doug said no.
Gloves are much bigger now and you actually have less reach when using both hands. That doesn’t mean Doug approves of casual glove flips when receiving the ball. There’s still a right way to do it: when possible, above the nose (you don’t want the head snapping down to follow the ball on a lower catch) off to the side (don’t block your view of the ball) and over the throwing shoulder when a throw is required (it closes you up and puts you in a better position to throw) and on the glove side with nobody on.
Sisson believes the Royals have a very good group of outfield arms on this team, both starters and reserves. They’ve also got a really interesting (to me, but I’ve got a boring social life) rule of thumb for making throws: Doug said he wanted to come up with something that allowed the outfielders to make a quick decision. He didn’t want them trying to make up their minds about what to do with the ball while they’re picking it up.
So here’s the rule: if fielding the ball moves the outfielder towards the base the lead runner is headed towards or the ball is hit very hard, the outfielder can go after the lead runner. If fielding the ball moves the outfielder away from the base the lead runner is headed towards or it’s hit softly, the outfielder takes the ball to second in order to keep the double play in order. ‘Sis’ said they needed to keep this as simple as possible, which raises a question: if this is “Outfielding for Dummies” why did he have to explain it to me three times?
Home on the range…
The Alcides Escobar play that had everyone talking was not one on which he got an out. Over the weekend Esky went to his left on an Ichiro Suzuki ground ball that had been deflected by Bruce Chen. Alcides ended up on the first base side of second, did a 360, threw accurately while on the move and barely missed getting Ichiro…and his range rating went down.
OK, I can’t remember if it was range rating or range factor or ultimate Frisbee. The point is we’re all guesstimating. I’ve got my idea of what a great play is and someone else has another. Wearing a lab coat and working out a number with a decimal point doesn’t make it any more scientific. There aren’t any white lines on the field delineating areas or radar guns recording how fast the batted ball was moving.
We’re all indulging in educated guesses. So don’t take any numbers, including mine, as gospel.
Learning Spanish with Brayan…
Brayan Pena’s word of the day? “Amigo” He gave me the word along with a fist bump…and he says he’s going to start asking me for an English word of the day…any suggestions?
OK, any non-profane suggestions? When I asked Brayan if he cussed in Spanish or English he said neither, because he’s Cuban Catholic. He also said he Cuban Catholics don’t drink. I said that he had much to learn from American Catholics.